'Celebrating our Living Culture' ACCU ESD Photo Message Exhibit in Pune

The third stop of the traveling ACCU (Asia Pacific Cultural Centre of UNESCO) ESD Photo Message Exhibition was inaugurated on 19 December by Mayor of Pune Mr Mohansingh Rajpal. Earlier events took place at Ahmedabad and Jaipur. The exhibition of 60 award-winning photographs on "Living Heritage"  aims to develop an understanding and respect for different cultures and traditions. It also provides an opportunity for critical reflection and dialogue with practitioners and interaction with community on culture, society and sustainability issues.

As part of the Pune event organized with local partner INTACH, panel discussions on 'Cultures of Sustainability' covered the areas of citizen action, research, teaching-learning, biodiversity management etc. Each panel considered how these areas of society have been shaped in the past and what the current challenges are in the context of sustainability. Participants expressed the need for a forum of Educators for Sustainability in Pune, as well as preparation of a submission by citizens to the municipal authority on creating a Biodiversity Management Committee. A discussion on the linkages between the physical structure of the city and culture drew attention to the need for dialogue between different segments of society and the local government, especially since a master plan for Pune's core city area is currently being prepared. Over one thousand visitors including several school students visited the exhibition. A special workshop on folk art and interaction with a traditional clay idol maker were arranged to help children understand cultural changes in the city. The last event of the five-day exhibition was a Community Drum Circle by Taal Inc.

Local citizens groups and NGOs working on waste, disaster, organic food, ecofriendly products, traffic, heritage conservation, planning etc. were also invited to put up posters about their work, under the theme 'Cultures of Sustainability'.

More information on www.desd.org
The Unexpected From Copenhagen

The United Nations Climate Summit, COP 15, held between 7 – 18 December 2009 in Copenhagen , did not bring the fair, ambitious and binding deal that the civil society had hoped for. (http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/

Kartikeya Sarabhai and Rixa Schwarz at COP 15, Copenhagen, December 2009

However, how successful the COP 15 was can perhaps only be judged over time depending on the way the Accord gets accepted and becomes the basis for future action and binding treaties. But one thing the event certainly achieved, although perhaps unintentionally: It did more to create global awareness for climate change than any other effort at creating public awareness. If the efforts of Al Gore deserved a Nobel Peace Prize, the Copenhagen COP, if seen in this light, certainly deserves one!

While the Copenhagen Accord lays down the foundation for future action there was little mention of education or communication as a tool to a more sustainable world. Kartikeya Sarabhai, Rixa Schwarz of CEE Germany and Gopal Jain of CEE Youth Programmes were at Copenhagen, participating and pushing this agenda!
Joy of Learning at Pancham

CEE participated in a four-day event “PANCHAM 2009”, an initiative to demonstrate the growth of science and technology and its application in human welfare while maintaining a balance between Development and Environment. The event was organized by Zenith School, Baroda, as a part of the National Green Corps (NGC) Programme. Two interactive panels were used to impart Energy Education to the visitors.

A number of activities were organized during the event such as Snakes and Ladder, Break the Pyramid, Oh Deer, Canvas Painting, Wishing Tree and the Bird Identification Competition.

CEE also held an exhibition on the different working models of rainwater harvesting, namely, the Recharge Pit, Handpump Recharge, Low-cost Check Dams and Recharge through Existing Wells, which were developed by Jeevan Tirth as a part of the Small Grants Programme. The Prakriti Bus was also stationed at the venue to provide visitors with information related to environment and to CEE's various activities. Approximately 50,000 people visited the event and participated in the activities.
National Consultation on Bt Brinjal
CEE, on behalf of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), will hold National Public Consultations on Bt. Brinjal during January, 2010. The consultations will be held at seven locations across India, namely, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Nagpur, Chandhigarh. Multiple stakeholders including scientists, agriculture experts, farmer organizations, consumer groups/citizens, NGOs, government officials and the media will attend the consultations.

Disaster Risk Reduction in the Mountains

CEE Himalaya (www.ceehimalaya.org) has been working in the Kashmir province of the State of Jammu & Kashmir since 2005 - soon after the province was hit by a devastating earthquake of 7.6 on the Richter scale. CEE Himalaya has taken up a disaster risk reduction campaign in 2,000 schools and 50 villages of Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Srinagar districts. In the schools, teachers and students are involved in vulnerability and risk mapping through rapid visual risk assessment and preparing disaster management plan for their school. Disaster response teams formed in selected schools have been trained in life-saving skills and safe evacuation.

CEE Himalaya celebrated IMD 2009 with educators by conducting a week-long series of events on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. About 150 participants including teachers and officials of the Department of Education, Ganderbal, participated in these events.

Participants worked together to identify climate change impacts in the local context, particularly in terms of water availability, variation in micro-climate, impact on agriculture/horticulture and other livelihoods, and vulnerability to natural disasters The concept of School Disaster Management Plans (SDMP) was introduced. Participants got a hands-on opportunity to prepare SDMPs for their schools through group exercises, and discussed their opinions about village contingency plans.

Some of the observations on impacts of climate change in the area discussed by participants included the melting, shrinking and even disappearance for some glaciers, drying up of several wetlands and perennial springs.

Heavy deforestation, decline and extinction of wildlife, heavy soil erosion, siltation of water bodies, fall in crop yields, reduced availability of fodder and other non- timber forest produce were some of the other related issues discussed.

Films such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “First Victims of Climate Change” were screened and discussed during these programmes. The Urdu version of “Riskland- Let Us Learn to Prevent Disasters” UNISDR's (UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) educational kit, translated and adapted for Kashmir by CEE, was distributed, and was discussed and tried out with the participants, Another educational package, “Pick Right”, developed by CEE for climate change education was also distributed, discussed and used. A message to reduce our “footprint” and increase our “hand print” was spread during these events.

A Day with the Birds

The 7th class students of Rachana School, Ahmedabad, got an opportunity to see a large number of birds such as the Little Cormorant, Spot-Billed Duck, River Tern, Oriental White Ibis and Indian Pond Heron during their visit to the Thol Bird Sanctuary on 19 December 2009. The trip was conducted as a part of the Sustainable Schools Programme. The students also got a chance to understand the birds' behaviour, adaptation habits and habitat.

The bird-watching session was conducted by Dr. Girish Jathar, who also answered the students' questions about birds and wildlife. The students shared their experience and the information gathered. They tried to identify the birds using a flex print bird chart showing the birds commonly found at Thol.

“I never knew that birds could be so different from each other. They are simply beautiful” said one of the students excitedy.

CEE ki Games Pathshaala

It was fun and games on CEE campus during the visit of children from Eurokids Vastrapur. The joy and energy found form in a variety of outdoor games. In times when there is a serious concern about children suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder, an unwanted side-effect of the electronic age. This was a good opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the benefits of outdoor physical activity.

Prakriti Bus

CEE's "Prakriti - Environment Education Bus" was exhibited at the "Science is Fun! 2009" event at Surat, organised by the Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre and supported by the Gujarat Gas Company Limited. It was hosted by P.P.Savani International School, Surat, from 21 - 24 December. Students from schools in and around Surat visited the bus and participated in the games and activities which the bus offers.